CHICAGO -- Brandon McCarthy is ready to begin again. He may not be starting, but he is ready to begin pitching again.McCarthy, who has been sidelined since April 24 with a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade, threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday. It all went well, and the Rangers expect McCarthy to be activated this week. "It was good," McCarthy said about his Tuesday session. "I feel like a lot of the mechanical changes we made, everything that we wanted to accomplish in this process, we've gotten pretty close to. So now, it's just kind of taking that into games and hopefully we've done everything right to kind of avoid this again. But [Tuesday], it was pretty positive." The plan is for McCarthy to initially pitch out of the bullpen at Oklahoma City. But that could be a permanent move as the Rangers try to decide if he could help them more as a starter or a reliever. He has been strictly a starter since being acquired from the White Sox on Dec. 23, 2006. "That was the first time I had heard about it," McCarthy said. "I know that my first couple outings back here are going to be out of the 'pen to build back up innings-wise. I think the plan from there was to go back into the rotation. But, in terms of long term, we haven't discussed that. "Thursday, I think I'll pitch an inning out of the bullpen, and I'm just going to keep throwing from there. I feel as good as I can right now. ... It's just kind of being able to push through things right now and make all the changes."
Hurley trying to return from wrist surgery
CHICAGO -- Eric Hurley, taken by the Rangers in the first round (30th overall) of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, did not pitch last year because of surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
The Rangers are hoping 2010 won't be a complete waste, as well. It's not going well so far.
When last seen, Hurley underwent surgery in Spring Training to repair a broken bone in his left wrist. This happened while he was still in a throwing program and building up strength in his right shoulder.
The wrist surgery was a major setback, but it only got worse. Turns out the wrist surgery wasn't a success. A screw that was inserted during the surgery later started to come out of the bone. A second surgery was needed on April 27 and that further delayed Hurley's throwing program.
On Tuesday, he threw 25 pitches during a bullpen session at the Rangers' training facility in Surprise, Ariz. That's roughly the equivalent of a pitcher having a light workout in January before Spring Training begins.
In other words, it's going to be at least six weeks before Hurley is at full strength again where he can be pitching in Minor League games. That is if he has no more setbacks. Remember, Hurley was 33-22 with a 3.78 ERA in the Minor Leagues from 2005-07 and was the Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006.
He made five starts for the Rangers in 2008 and was 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA before his shoulder problems started. He hasn't pitched in a game since July 27, 2008.
"We're hopeful this will not be another lost season," assistant general manager Thad Levine said. "We're hoping he can get back out on the mound and pitch for a full-season Minor League team this year."
Smoak showing early mental toughness
CHICAGO -- The Rangers may be getting an early view of first baseman Justin Smoak's mental toughness. Smoak went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 2-1 loss to the Twins on Friday, and that was clearly a low moment for him to this point in his embryonic Major League career.
But Smoak has rebounded strong from that dismal night. Going into Wednesday's game against the White Sox, he is 4-for-8 with a home run in his past three games. That's a small sample, but he is starting to drive the ball with authority. He hit an RBI pinch-hit single and a home run off the bench on Tuesday night.
"I'm still hitting a buck-eighty or something like that," said Smoak, who is actually at .190. "I'm still not where I want to be, and I still have a lot of work to do. I need to keep getting better every day.
"It's tough when you strike out three times in a game. Normally, it doesn't happen to me. After that night, I told myself to just go out and have fun. There's no pressure, so just relax and slow the game down as much as possible."
Hunter ready to go Saturday
CHICAGO -- Tommy Hunter rejoined the Rangers on Wednesday at U.S. Cellular Field. He won't be officially recalled until Saturday, but he will start that afternoon against the Rays at the Ballpark in Arlington.Hunter replaces Derek Holland, who went on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder. "[Holland] called me and said, 'You're welcome,'" Hunter said. "But that's baseball. Everybody gets injured, and somebody has to fill the spot. Hopefully, I can do that on Saturday." Actually, Hunter should have been in the Rangers' rotation from the beginning. But he strained the oblique muscle in his left ribcage in Spring Training and had to start the season on the disabled list. He was 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City before finally getting the call. "It was a matter of time," Hunter said. "I had a pretty good injury and I had to get healthy. Then it was patience. It's not bothering me anymore and hasn't bothered me in a while. So it's a matter of keeping the ball down, and let the defense make plays."
Vladimir Guerrero was the Rangers' Player of the Month for May. He hit .330 with 18 runs scored, 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. He was the first Rangers player to have at least 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in a month since Mark Teixeira in July 2004. ... Rangers starters were 0-5 in their previous seven games before Rich Harden earned a victory on Tuesday night. ... Right now, the Rays are listing Wade Davis, James Shields and Matt Garza for the three-game series against the Rangers. They are all right-handers. ... Frank Francisco is working on 11 consecutive scoreless outings (11 IP) after striking out the side on Tuesday. Opponents have just four hits in their last 32 at-bats against him and 19 of his past 30 outs have been on strikeouts.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.